The Democratic Party, though the dominant political force in North Philadelphia’s 197th House District, just can’t win there this year.
On Friday, Common Pleas Court President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper rejected the party’s attempt to override a decision from the city commissioners last week denying the Democrats positions as poll watchers during Tuesday's special election.
The reason: The Democratic candidate is not on the ballot, though the party represents 85 percent of the voters in that district.
The state Supreme Court last week rejected attempts by the Democratic Party and 43rd Ward Leader Emilio Vazquez for him to be a late substitution in the race.
The party’s first pick, Frederick Ramirez, was removed from the ballot after a Commonwealth Court judge ruled that he did not live in the district.
“Undaunted, Emilio Vazquez is conducting a write-in campaign with support from the state and city Democratic Party,” an attorney wrote in a court filing Monday.
Poll watchers are allowed to be inside polling places during elections to monitor voting, on the lookout for any fraud or other irregularities.
The 197th District, where fractious Democratic Party relationships have been mired in infighting for years, is known for Election Day polling-place disputes and shenanigans.
The Democratic House Campaign Committee, according to the court filing, was rejected on March 7 when it sought poll-watching certificates. A representative appealed that decision to the city commissioners in a meeting the next day. The commissioners took no action, the filing said.
Lucinda Little, the Republican nominee, is the only candidate listed on the ballot. Her party represents 5 percent of the voters in the district.
Green Party nominee Cheri Honkala is also running as a write-in candidate after being denied a place on the ballot because she filed her nomination paperwork a day late.
The seat is vacant because State Rep. Leslie Acosta, a Democrat, resigned on Jan. 3 after pleading guilty last year to a federal embezzlement charge.